Nowadays we're all living in the fast lane with access to fast food, fast internet etc. Yet it still comes as a surprise to people when they realise that their clothes are apart of that group. Whenever we shop for clothes we probably all look at the price, material and design of them. But we never think about what’s behind that price tag and how those clothes were made. This is the reality of the fashion industry today and with fast fashion rising as much as 21% over the last 3 years it is evident that this part of the industry is starting to dominate the market. The problems of it, however, have started gaining traction with famous companies like Vogue spreading awareness of them through videos on the internet. 

But what is fast fashion? It is ‘high fashion’ for a low price. Like fast food, both industries rely on their fast production rates and low costs as a way to attract and keep customers. 

So there are positives to fast fashion like the low prices and fast production. However it has been proven to impact the environment more negatively rather than positively. The industry is said to be the second highest freshwater polluter in the world. This is because many companies dump toxic chemicals, which they use to dye their clothes, into rivers. This can kill the wildlife living around those rivers and can affect people’s jobs, like fishermen who rely on catching fish to provide them money. It can also affect people’s drinking water supplies and transportation by boat.

The fast fashion industry isn’t just the highest polluter when it comes to freshwater, research has shown that it could also be the second highest polluter in terms of greenhouse gases behind only oil with 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions coming from textile factories. 100 billion garments a year go to landfill and some companies even burn their clothes. 

This information is leaving people with one question. What can be done about it? If you're interested in helping there are many different things that you can do. Firstly, you can stop shopping from those brands altogether and instead shop at sustainable brands however these tend to be more expensive. You  can also buy less clothes from fast fashion companies and instead go to charity shops or ‘thrift shops’. If you don’t like secondhand clothing you could also go to outlets like TK Maxx to prevent clothes from being wasted. 

by Anna Antonenko Newstead Wood School